FLORIDA – Inverse Condemnation – Property Conveyance After Governmental Taking

In Simon v. Deer Meadows, the Florida 1st DCA affirmed the trial court’s ruling that when an original owner of real property loses part of his property interest due to a governmental taking and afterwards conveys the remaining realty, he does not transfer the right to compensation for the portion he lost without a separate assignment of that right.

Robert and Susan Simon bought Lot 16 in the Deer Meadows subdivision in 1993. When purchasing the lot, the Simons knew there was a pond on the lot that caught and held storm water from the neighborhood. The Simons were also informed by the owners of adjacent Lot 15 and the previous owners of Lot 16 that the two maintained the pond themselves.

Over ten years later, the Simons informed the City that the City should be responsible for maintaining the pond. The City disagreed and the Simons filed a lawsuit for inverse condemnation arguing that the City owns and controls the streets and that the streets are designed to discharge storm water into the pond on Lots 15 and 16. The Simons argued the City has no property rights to the pond, and therefore the City is “taking” the pond. The trial court held that even if the City’s use of the pond was a taking, the Simons could not assert a claim for inverse condemnation because it occurred before they purchased the property and nothing indicated the Simons had been assigned any interest in an inverse condemnation claim.

On appeal, the First DCA affirmed the trial court’s decision, reasoning that any action on the part of the government in this case was taken long before the Simons bought the property. “The Simons may not purchase the property fully aware and then claim a governmental taking and demand compensation.” Citing a previous decision by the Fifth DCA, the Appeals court concluded, “If the rule were otherwise, the original owners of damaged property would suffer a loss and the purchaser of that property would receive a windfall.”

Simon v. Deer Meadows Homeowners’ Assn., 1D18-2407, 2019 WL 1128451 (Fla. 1st DCA July 10, 2019)

Read the full opinion here…

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